By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As the cold makes its way to Minnesota and western Wisconsin, you want to make sure your child is warm. But how do know if their coat is safe for a car seat?

The American Academy of Pediatrics says bulky clothing, like winter coats and snowsuits, should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat.

Hennepin Healthcare trauma prevention specialist Julie Philbrook says the issue with many winter coats is the unseen gap they create between the car seat harness and the child.

“We want this harness to have as much contact with the body as possible, and as snug as possible,” Philbrook said.

Once she removed the winter coat from our doll, there was an inch of slack left in the harness.

“In a crash, all that air in that coat is going to go out,” she said. “When we see and hear kids that were in a car seat and were ejected out of the vehicle, it’s usually because the car seat wasn’t on tight enough and they slipped out of it.”

(credit: CBS)

For a safer, but still warm option in the car, you can try:

* Dressing in thin layers.
* Putting a blanket on top of the harness.
* Warming up the car first.
* Putting their winter coat on backwards over the top of the harness.
* Getting a designated car seat coat, like a thin fleece jacket.

“[A thin fleece jacket is] much, much thinner. You’re not going to have all the air that’s in there, and you can see here that the harness sits much better over the shoulder,” Philbrook said.

Experts say the coat should pass two key tests: no pinchable slack in the strap at the shoulders, and the shoulder straps should not be sliding off.

Experts say it’s also a good idea to have a conversation about car seat coats and safety with any caregivers, like a nanny or grandparents.

Nov. 18 is National Injury Prevention Day. The day brings awareness to a range of child safety issues, including car seats. U.S. Bank Stadium, The 35W Bridge and Nicolet Mall will all be lit up green for safety.

Kate Raddatz